Navigating Motherhood

Motherhood is a journey like no other and one that is incredibly rewarding. From the first flutter of a tiny heartbeat to the joy of seeing your baby’s first smile, the journey of motherhood is filled with moments of love, joy, and curiosity. However, it is also a journey fraught with challenges and uncertainties. Having worked with many mothers, I will discuss many of the challenges mothers faces and some strategies to navigate this journey with resilience, courage, and hope.

  1. The myth of perfect motherhood: Motherhood in contemporary society is often portrayed through the lens of perfection, perpetuating unrealistic expectations and setting unattainable standards for mothers. From glossy magazine covers to curated social media feeds, the pressure to embody the archetype of the “perfect mother” can leave women feeling inadequate, guilty, overwhelmed. It is important to remember that striving for this unrealistic standard is a recipe for disaster, anxiety, and depression. Try shifting your mindset and expectations. If it means utilizing less screen time and focusing on your own journey, do that. Try to accept your imperfections with grace and practice being kind to yourself. Children do not need a perfect mother. They need unconditional love, and that you can give. It also can be helpful to stop comparing yourself to other mothers. Comparison is the thief of joy. You are on your own journey and that is the only thing to focus on.
  • Balancing it all: many women struggle with balancing the demands of motherhood with other aspects of life, including their career, personal interests, relationships, and other responsibilities. It is so easy to spend a nice amount of your time caring for your children and home, leaving you with little energy to take care of yourself. Start prioritizing “me time.” Just like you wouldn’t leave dirty dishes in the sink or neglect to take your child to their well-visit, treat yourself like a priority. Everything else can wait. Learn what gives you energy and do more of that. Set boundaries for yourself, learn to say no, ask for help, and delegate tasks. Doing so can help alleviate the burden of your overwhelming responsibilities.
  • The Myth of Maternal Instinct: popular culture romanticizes an innate parental intuition, which can lead to feelings of shame, insecurity and self-doubt if you find that motherhood does not come so naturally to you. No one is born to know it all by becoming a mother. Motherhood is a journey filled with growth, learning, unknowns, errors, and adaptation. When you learn to forgive yourself, embrace the chaos and messy aspects of motherhood, you’ll approach motherhood with more love, flexibility, ease, and patience.
  • The Emotional Rollercoaster: Motherhood is an emotional rollercoaster, marked by a spectrum of feelings ranging from love and joy to profound sadness and anxiety. Many mothers experience overwhelming emotions, including guilt, loneliness, and fear of inadequacy, as they navigate the complexities of parenting. It is important that if you are struggling with intense emotions for some time, you should reach out for professional support. Struggling with something more serious may require medication and additional supports which you will find to be beneficial.
  • Relationship changes: becoming a mother impacts your relationship with your spouse and others. Your priority becomes your child. However, it is important to communicate effectively, and remember those closest to you. Check in with those you love and give yourself some time to reconnect with them and spend quality time with them.

Some ways to implement self-care:

  • Find ways to move your body. Go for a short walk, do 10 minutes of movement at home, or find an exercise class or gym you like. Moving your body releases endorphins and can relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Pick two days a week where you move away from screen time. Instead of spending your time effortlessly scrolling social media, spend your time learning a new skill or refining your skills in an area of interest.
  • Get into a habit of sticking to a daily routine. Keep it simple and short. Whether it means waking up a few minutes early before your children to have your cup of coffee or saying positive affirmations as you get dressed, routine helps keep you grounded.
  • Stay connected to others. If you are feeling down, it often can help speaking with those you love and trust. Sometimes all you need is a listening ear, which can feel very validating.

Motherhood is a journey of immense love, growth, and transformation, but it is also one marked by challenges, uncertainties, and stressors. Remember, you are not alone on this journey, and it is okay to ask for help when you need it. Together, we can create a culture of support and empowerment where every mother feels valued, heard, and celebrated. Next time you are struggling, try to tap into some self-care and seek support from those around you.

Dr. Aryeh Berlin is a New Jersey licensed clinical psychologist and founder of Aspire Psychological Group. Dr. Berlin has vast clinical training experiences including a residential adolescent addiction treatment center in Israel, community mental health centers, and youth detention centers. Dr. Berlin has lectured on parenting children with emotional and behavioral difficulties, child development, helping children with school-related challenges and trauma. Audiences included attorneys, mental health professionals, parents, and educators.

Navigating Motherhood